“Based on the success of Chicago last summer, it seems clear that Toledo embraces this type of entertainment,” Sue Ott Rowlands said in her office at the University of Toledo.
She was talking about Gypsy, the musical that opens tonight at UT.
“The show has so much going for it. It's having a great revival in New York; it's the quintessential American musical; it's a musical about relationships, theater, and family,” said Ott Rowlands, the chairman of UT's department of theater and film, which is presenting the play in collaboration with the Toledo Repertoire Theatre.
Gypsy runs through Aug. 10 in the Center Theater of the Center for Performing Arts.
Presenting a summer musical fills many of the goals of her department, Ott Rowlands said. One is community outreach. “Large summer musicals give us the opportunity to bring lots of community performers together,” she explained.
Another goal is teaching. UT is working to build a strong stage management program, Ott Rowlands said, and for Gypsy, “we have a lot of presence in terms of students. We have a full student management team, the technical crews and construction crews are students. In a way it's even better for the students in the summer. They have a one-on-one mentorship with the faculty and a more intense experience than during the school year.”
The show, inspired by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, was written by Arthur Laurents, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Their songs include “Let Me Entertain You,” “You Gotta Get A Gimmick,” and “Everything's Coming Up Roses.”
The tale of a domineering stage mother and her two daughters celebrates the birth of musical theater, from vaudeville to burlesque, Rowlands said.
Playing the mother, Mama Rose, will be Cindy Eberhardt of Maumee, who has appeared in numerous local productions. Her love interest and manager, Herbie, is portrayed by Paul Causman, who recently appeared in Art for both Ms. Rose's Dinner Theater and the Rep. Anne Reid of Toledo plays younger daughter Louise. Reid, has appeared in area productions of A Chorus Line and South Pacific.
Ott Rowlands and Gloria Moulopoulos, artistic director of the Rep, are the co-directors, Ken Cooper of the department of music and dance is musical director, and teaching artist Laura Johnson is the choreographer.
“Gypsy” is being presented through Aug. 10 in the Center Theater of UT's Center for Performing Arts. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and students from the center box office, 419-530-2375, or www.Stagetix.com. They will also be sold at the door if they're available.